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Sylhet Agriculture University
A Lighthouse of Agricultural Education

– Prof Dr. Md. Jamal Uddin Bhuiyan-
After 17 years of glory, Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU) has entered into 18 years. SAU was established to expand agricultural education inhaor, enriched hilly Sylhet division located in the northeastern region of Bangladesh. Initially, it started with three faculties; seven were gradually opened. These faculties are significantly contributing to maintaining coherence and equality with the advanced world in various fields of agricultural science, creating opportunities for higher edu-cation and research at the national level, and conducting research work. The main campus of this university was built on 50 acres of hilly land in Sylhet’s divisional city. Apart from the university’s faculty, administrative, and residential buildings, there is a central auditorium. The university’s second campus and research field has been built on 12.29 acres of land on the north side of Tama-bil Bypass Road. This university has 07 faculties, 47 departments, a field research center, and ad-vanced laboratories. There is also a well-equipped veterinary teaching hospital.
As a token of respect to the martyrs of language and independence, the central Shahid Minar, one of the most beautiful Shahid Minars of Bangladesh, has been constructed on this campus, named ‘Suryaloke Varnamala.’ Besides, there are five student halls and two female halls. In addition to teaching at the university, research activities are contracted with the help of various national and international organizations. More than one hundred research articles by teachers in the university have been published in international Scopus-indexed journals even during the global epidemic (COVID-19).
The researchers here are working to improve the quality of life in haor through integrated farm management. In the Boro crop-dependent lowlands, a great portion of fields was once fallow, even in winter. SAU has taken various steps to improve the quality of life of marginal farmers of Suna-mganj, including haors. Intensive research on spice crops is going on. SAU-developed protein-rich ‘Sikribi Sim-1’ and ‘Sikribi Sim-2’ varieties are expected to meet the year-round protein demand in the greater Sylhet region.Automatedagro-meteorological stations have been set up to capture agro-meteorological data of the Sylhet region. The teachers and students of this university have been surprised by new agricultural innovations and research. Many university teachers and students have won several national and international awards for this. Five hundred twenty-two research pro-jects have been successfully completed through the Sylhet Agricultural University Research Sys-tem (SAURES), established in 2008. Besides, 187 research projects are ongoing in the fiscal year 2023-2024. To support research, laboratories with modern facilities have been set up in 41 depart-ments at 11 core taka.
A number of MoUs have been signed with national and international organizations to promote re-search activities and share education and research information. One of the institutes that have signed an agreement with SAU is the Integrated Evolutionary Institute at the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübigen, Germany, Department of Biology, one of the best institutes for interna-tional agriculture and science education Kobe University of Japan, Oslo International Rotary Club of Norway, The Newtia University of West Bengal, Habiganj Agricultural University, Dhaka Uni-versity, BCSIR, Cotton Development Board and Bangladesh Fisheries Research. Institute, Bangla-desh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, and International Rice Research Institute. According to the recently published ranking on the website of Spain-based Simago Institution Ranking, SAU has won the number 1 position in the country in the innovative rank, competing with 41 institutions of Bangladesh. SAU also has won first place among the 11 institutions in the field of aquatic science in the country.In the overall ranking, Sylhet Agricultural University is fifth among higher education institutions in Bangladesh.
After joining as the 6th Vice-Chancellor of SAU, various initiatives have been taken to establish a chain of command by eliminating existing administrative work problems besides emphasizing edu-cation, research, and extension work. An orderly environment has been brought back for education development, including smoothly running education programs and eliminating problems in the education department and classrooms. As a result, the university was not closed indefinitely, not even for a single day. Adequate initiatives have been taken to identify and remove obstacles to fair and timely teaching methods. The curriculum has been tailored to the needs of the 21st century to meet the challenges of food security and climate change. A great development has been made in the educational system by revising the traditional academic rules. New dimensions have been add-ed to research fields. MoUs have been signed with reputed domestic and foreign universities and research institutes in this regard. In order to make the students proficient in research, an initiative has been taken to give importance to field research, to properly apply the knowledge acquired at the field level, and to create an international quality laboratory. Priority has been given to all issues that help create a fair environment for education. Internet facilities have been enhanced in the university to maintain communication with all the concerned quarters, which play an essential role in education, research, and extension.
Major plans have been undertaken to develop the Sylhet Agricultural University into a modern university of international standards. A fair environment for education has been restored by ensur-ing fair pay and promotion of teachers.Apart from this, effective steps have been taken to solve various problems, including promotion of work and employees. In addition to maintaining the learning environment in the university, various activities have been undertaken to make the stu-dents equally proficient in sports, literature, and cultural activities. Above all, we are working to improve the university’s rules, including establishing justice, transparency and rule of law. Despite various challenges and financial constraints, we have made significant progress in various aspects of agriculture. This university is working to make an important contribution to the various devel-opment plans of the Bangladesh Government. We have actively contributed to the development of agriculture at local, national, and international levels through extension programs, information exchange, and collaborative projects. Our partnership with government agencies, stakeholders, and other institutions has been strengthened.
There was a time when the farmer could barely survive by doing the farming. Such a scene is no longer seen. The current government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is working tirelessly to make agriculture modern and profitable. After independence, war-torn Bang-ladesh was dismissed as a bottomless basket. That Bangladesh is on the highway of development today. In the 52 years of independence, the most enormous success in the country has come in agriculture. Despite four decades of food shortages, the country is now self-sufficient in this sector, with Sylhet Agricultural University as its proud partner.
(Writer is Vice-Chancellor of Sylhet Agricultural University).

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